Gaffigan Sighting

Before 6 a.m. on a spring morning, Amanda Gaffigan Steele of Plainfield was taking a circuitous route to work in Hatfield, traveling toward Greenfield on Route 2 near the overgrown Mohawk Mountain ski trails when she noticed something unusual crossing the road near Jed’s Cider Mill. Of a grayish brown hue, the large animal carried a long tail that curled gently toward the sky. No doubt about it: big cat.

“You’re not gonna put my name in the paper, are you?” she asked, when called at home.

“That’s the plan,” I responded.

“Well, OK, but I hope people don’t think I’m crazy.”

It’s a fear cougar sightings stir in most witnesses’ souls; one of being written off as a lunatic. But still the reports keep coming, and coming, and coming.

You be the judge of this witness’ sanity.

Known as Mandy to friends, the pregnant, 34-year old Shelburne Falls native had just passed the moccasin place on the trail when the animal appeared in the road, crossing slowly from out of the brook hole near Jed’s toward the old Schechterle place. In no great hurry, it reached the guardrail, walked over it effortlessly and disappeared into the greening forest to Steele’s right.

“I never got a look at its face because it was looking the other way, but I know what I saw and it wasn’t a bobcat or a coy dog, a deer or bear,” Steele said. “What I noticed most was the long tail, curved upward. It was a mountain lion. I couldn’t believe my eyes.”

Overcome with excitement, Steele called he mother, Bunny Tirrell, on a cell phone, waking her from a sound sleep at home. “She said she was amazed by its powerful shoulders,” Tirrell reported. “Big, powerful shoulders. That’s what she told me.”

But her mom wasn’t the only person she phoned. She also called her grandfather, Bill Gaffigan, at his Buckland-side home overlooking Cricket Field. An experienced hunter of coons, cats, deer, you name, Bill Gaffigan has probably hunted it.

“I was reluctant to call him because he’s apt to give me a hard time,” Steele admitted. “But not this time. He believed me. He said people have been seeing mountain lions around here lately.”

She learned later that not only have there been many recent sightings, there had been some right around where she saw hers. That’s a fact. Many reports have come from within a mile or two of hers; even a track in the mud in an old apple orchard a stone’s throw from Jed’s, one a veteran local outdoorsman identified as a cougar’s, only to be overruled by state wildlife officials who identified it from photos as a dog track. The local outdoorsman didn’t buy it.

Where the beast Steele encountered last week will show up next is anyone’s guess. Could be Shelburne or Conway or Becket or Saratoga for that matter. Big cats cover a lot of territory. But if it happens to cross your path, don’t bother alerting the authorities. They have a pat answer written in bold letters across their desktop calendar pads. It reads: “Eastern cougars have been extinct for nearly a century.”

The “official” stance. Go figure.

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One Response to Gaffigan Sighting

  1. I dont know hat tavern you go to but to lable Fox news as right wing and not consider what MSNBC, CNN are…well come on man get real
    all of these networks are ridiculous and you must watch and listen to them all or you WILL NOTget the whole picture. liberals cant accept the fact that media is led by liberals, hollywood-entertainment is led bywhinning liberal. on the other hand the Fox news has dumb asses saying dumb ass things and ultra right- angry crap just as much as Kieth Oberman and Joy Behar and Whoopie. Please dont use your blog to perpetuate this crap-warefare- stick to the cougar, beaver stuff which drew me to your site in the first place please

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